Yet again, another short story that I've written in the past. Hope you enjoy. :)
I love watching people draw. The sight of it relaxes me. Ever since mom died, my dad started making sketches of things. Every day I would sit beside my father as I watch him sketch. He draws people and animals, buildings and grasslands, fruits and vegetables – anything he can get his mind set to. I’ve never tried drawing. I just enjoy watching my father go off gazing into a distance as if he’s not in this world, his hands busy at work making magic on his canvas. Each drawing he makes I’ve watched him as he worked asking him questions. His drawing never seemed to make sense to me, they were pictures of things you see every day; spoons and forks, tables and chairs. They never seemed to have much meaning to them. To me, they were just everyday household items, but dad though otherwise. He told me that I haven’t grasped the true meaning of his artwork. Each time he draws something, I ask him the same old question, “What’s that about?” He just looks at me and smiles calmly setting down his pencil; “You’ll understand.” he would tell me every day.
This morning was special. I was turning twelve today. I woke up to a nice cool breeze and the birds were chirping a friendly greeting – the day was perfect. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and gave a quiet yawn as I turned to Lucky, my dog, who was curled up in his small dog bed.
“Good morning Lucky!” I said as I stroked his head, “Come on boy, breakfast!”
We marched downstairs and headed towards the back as I prepared Lucky a bowl of his dog food. I watched him as he munched happily on his food wagging his tail with every bite. I trotted to the kitchen and fixed my dad a cup of coffee as I prepared orange juice for myself. I didn’t know much about cooking, so I just fried some bacon and eggs and put some bread on the toaster. As soon as the food was ready, I took a shower and put on a nice shirt and a pair of pants. I was ready for the day ahead of me. I took Lucky’s leash and brought him out for a quick ten minute walk.
Everywhere I looked, people seemed to have the same cheerful mood I had that day. The day was perfect and everything was bright and cheerful. The people were all smiling at me as I smiled back at them. It was an amazing morning. I walked back home with Lucky and went back upstairs to wake dad up. His bedroom was locked up. That was strange, I thought. He doesn’t usually lock his room. I knocked at his door – no answer. Maybe he was asleep, I thought. I knocked again after a while calling his name as I did, but there was still no reply. I searched the house for the keys to his room turning everything over checking under and around every possible hiding place for the keys when I remembered that dad left them in his closet. I stood in front of his door and waited for him to open it. It seemed to be hours and our food was getting cold. “Why would he lock his door?” I asked myself. I checked my watch, 9:34. Maybe he’s just tired. I headed to the table and ate my food on my own as I got my hoodie and headed to the park. I left a note for dad in case he wakes up telling him where I went and not to worry.
I spent about twenty minutes swinging alone as I watched younger children running around and laughing together with their friends. I envied them. As I saw it, I had no friends. My only two friends were my dad and Lucky. I used to have another friend but she left the country and forgot about me. Every time I tried to make friends around the neighborhood and in school, they just avoid me like I’d kill them or harm them in any way. I didn’t see anything wrong with me, but everyone seemed to just push me away into a corner with no reason. I was deep in thought when a small high-pitched voice called from behind me nearly startling me.
“Hey miss!” it was a toddler about five years old; he was poking my back trying to get my attention, “Get off the swing! It’s my turn!”
I looked at him in the eye; I could see that I nearly scared him away with my gaze. I always seem to scare people when I look at them. I sighed to myself as I stood up and walked away from the swing and headed for a nearby bench. After another twenty minutes I got up and headed home.
My walk home wasn’t long but it seemed a lot happened as I strolled casually on the sidewalk. I walked blindly looking at the sky and gazing at its beauty remembering mom like she’s right beside me. I was just a baby when she died. I don’t remember her much, but dad described her to me in detail and even drew a picture of her for me to see. She was a beautiful sight and her face was still vivid in my mind. I imagined me and mom together playing with Lucky and watching dad as he sketched. It was all wishful thinking really, but I couldn’t help thinking, “What if mom wasn’t gone; maybe she took a long vacation.” I nearly lost my balance as I bumped into something as I was deep in thought. I came back to reality.
I bumped into one of the guys in my class, Drake. He was a rather tall and nimble guy. He seemed nice, but like everyone else, I scared him. “Hey! Watch where you’re – I mean, sorry Sapphire, it was my fault.” Drake walked quickly away after apologizing. I wasn’t surprised at his reaction – everyone does that. But I felt like a monster as he nervously spoke to me and ran off feeling relieved to have escaped my deathly presence. I watched him walk away from me. I turned back as soon as he was out of my sight and continued walking. A while later, I saw a group of people clumped together eagerly trying to get to the front. It was the ice cream man! Ice cream is my favorite dessert. I searched my pockets to find some money for ice cream. Got it! I took out some change from my pocket and headed to the back of the crowd.
I made my way in the crowd and saw a few familiar faces. I decided not to say anything so I just continued inching my way to the front. There, I came beside one of my old classmates, Pat. She was one of the brightest achievers in class. She was a straight A student, but I feel that she’s afraid of me as well. I never really see her run away from me, but whenever we come close together, she moves further and further. From the corner of my eye, I could see that she spotted me. She was the first in line this time. As she saw me looking at her, she quietly stepped back making way for me to get to the front. I was hesitant, but I took the opportunity and bought myself my favorite flavor of ice cream. Most people enjoy flavors like strawberry or chocolate but my one favorite was vanilla; no toppings or anything, just plain vanilla. I licked my ice cream and continued on my way home.
As I was licking my ice cream, I remembered the times when my dad and I bought ice cream for each other and shared stories and laughed as we walked home from the ice cream parlor. His favorite flavor was strawberry. He always tells me made up stories of the Ice cream Princess and her trusty Cherry. When I’m with my dad, we always seem to be in our own little made up world of Ice cream fantasies and dancing popcorn. I realized that I was drifting off into a different place. I came back into consciousness just in time. I nearly splashed into a huge puddle of water in front of me. I navigated my way around the puddle and continued on my way.
Finally, after a seemingly long walk, I arrive home. I take off my hoodie and put it aside. I’d almost forgotten that I hadn’t seen dad since this morning. I went upstairs to his room again to see if it was still locked. I reached for the door and turned the knob; still locked. I began to worry a bit; he’s never left his door locked. If he did, he’d open the door the first time he hears my voice. I checked my watch again, it was nearly lunch-time and dad hasn’t even gotten out of bed. I went to my room and searched my drawers for my bedroom keys.
“They might open dad’s door...” I told myself.
“Found them!” I said as I started to make my way to my dad’s room.
Lucky watched me as I tried each to fit the key in the hole. I put the key in the hole hoping I got the right one. The key came easily inside the lock.
Filled with hope, I tried to turn the knob; it was still locked. The key didn’t do it. I knocked on dad’s door again and called out his name loud enough to reach the other side of the door. I gave up after a few more tries and checked my watch again, another hour has passed. I was really worried now. What could’ve happened to dad? He’s a quiet guy but this seems more quiet than usual. Another hour passed, and I haven’t heard anything from my father. I decided to order lunch for the two of us as it was nearing one in the afternoon. Afterwards, I checked dad’s room again in case he unlocked the door. Unfortunately, he hasn’t, so I turned on the TV and flicked through the channels as I waited for the food.
The delivery arrived. I paid the guy and set our lunch on the table as I attempted to wake dad again. I had no luck so I left the food and went back to the TV as I waited for him to go out from his room. I watched a few good shows, but I changed the channel after every few minutes.
I then remembered dad’s window at the other side of the house. I drew away from the television and walked up to the front door.
“Hopefully this will wake him.” I told myself as I marched to the other side of the house.
Considering my father’s room is on the second floor of our house, I got a ladder and set it on his windowsill. I was afraid of heights, but I was worried about my father. I trembled as I slowly got on the ladder. I climbed at a slow pace tightening my grip on the ladder each time I advanced higher. It was a long and terrifying climb. I couldn’t help myself; I was shaking as I got to the top, but I refused to look down.
“Too late now” I thought.
I knocked on dad’s window still gripping onto the ladder. He didn’t have a balcony so I had to stay on the ladder as I knocked. I called his name and knocked harder. My fist was getting tired of banging against the window and the curtains were blocking my view of dad’s room – I couldn’t see anything but opaque shapes. I could make out my dad’s bed and his closet; some of his drawings were also visible through the thin curtain.
I was tired of knocking and yelling now, but I kept alert as I remembered where I was. My body shook as I realized how high up I’ve gone. A light gust of wind blew through me. It wasn’t strong but it was followed by a more forceful tempest causing the ladder to tilt slightly. My heart skipped a beat as I gripped onto the ladder with both hands. I gave out a soft yelp almost losing my grip on the ladder. My palms were sweating as I held tight. Sweat was dripping down to my nose.
I remembered dad’s window. I tried to tug on it. It slid open as I drew it back. One foot after the other, I scrambled into dad’s room. I was relieved to be away from the ladder as another strong wind blew the ladder to the ground. I could feel myself shaking as I imagined myself still on that ladder. Another minute later and I would’ve collapsed to the ground.
I could barely stand as I examined dad’s room. It was filled with drawings. Every inch of it were drawings; either hanging, on the ground or drawn directly on the walls. I remembered watching him every day as we shared stories and ate pizza in between the stories. I looked at one of his drawings; it was mom as I pictured her. She was a lovely woman with a delicate and caring smile. My memory of her was blurred, but I remember her laugh. Unlike my uncontrollable laugh, hers was sweet and pleasant; like a real woman, my dad would tease.
A reminder popped up in my mind notifying me why I came here through the window. I had to check on dad. I examined the room once again trying to ignore the drawings and memories they brought. I checked his bed if he was sleeping; under the sheets, too. I went round his closet in case he was trying to trick me. I went in the bathroom of dad’s room; it was also filled with faded drawings that were washed up by the water in the shower. Dad wasn’t there either.
I yelled at the top of my voice hoping he’d hear my cry, “DAD! WHERE ARE YOU? COME OUT FROM WHEREVER YOU’RE HIDING! It’s Sapphire...”
My voice started to fade as the sound was drained by the bellowing of the wind. I waited for a response; no answer. I checked his room again in case I missed him but I faced the same result.
I sat on his bed, thinking. “He couldn’t have gone far. He was here last night, wasn’t he?” I said out loud, “I’m talking to myself again. No wonder people are avoiding me.”
I unlocked dad’s door and closed his window.
Obediently, the Beagle heard my call and approached me. He’s not trained to be a sniff-dog, but I got his leash and went out of the house locking the door as I left.
ucky trotted beside me cheerfully sniffing the air. The sun was up and brightly shining as the day was nearing its end. I looked carefully around every corner for any sign of dad; I asked the woman tending to her garden, and I even asked some children who played near the sidewalk. I carefully described him to the people I asked – a tall and man with dark eyes and brown hair similar to mine but shorter, but unlike some other men, he keeps his face free from facial hair other than his eyebrows. I walked as far as the nearby supermarket where I asked some of the vendors if they’ve seen my dad. My search ended in vain as the sun had completely set, and I had yet to find my dad.
“Why of all the days when dad would be missing it would be on my birthday?” I asked Lucky who was busy trying to eat the grass popping up from the cracks of the sidewalk.
I came home and put on some comfortable clothes as I gave Lucky a bowl of water. It was nearly six in the evening and dad hasn’t come home; I was worried, but at the same time I was very tired. I tried to rest by attempting to draw something. Although I prefer watching people draw, I got a couple pieces of paper and some pencils and began sketching.
It started off as a bunch of lines and curves, but a picture was beginning to take form in the midst of my random shapes.
“Happy birthday, Fire!” a voice said as I drew.
I ignored it as I focused on finishing my drawing. I felt a hand on my shoulder; someone was sitting beside me, watching me as I drew. I shook the imagination away and continued sketching.
After another few minutes of drawing, I finally finished. I held the paper up further from my face; it was a drawing of a woman with ice cream-like hair dancing around with a giant cherry that was playing with popcorn that had arms and legs.
Looking up from my drawing, I saw dad smiling at me. “Hey, happy birthday!”
I couldn’t believe what was in front of me. After so much searching, dad was there – smiling as if nothing happened.
“That looks good.” Dad said gesturing at the drawing in my hands.
I crumpled my drawing up and turned away from dad. Tears were filling my eyes, ready to come out. Dad got up and after a while, I heard the door shut – dad left me again.
My cheeks were getting warm as my anger was filling my body. I wanted to punch him for worrying me and leaving me alone without word – twice. I clenched my fists and covered my face with a pillow. Lucky came close to me and rested his head on my lap comfortingly.
A few more minutes passed, the door opened and my dad walked casually in the house. My eyes were sore and red from crying.
“Look who’s here!” Dad said enthusiastically despite my silent weeping.
“Sapphire!” a tan girl said entering the house.
She looked familiar – about my age. She had brown eyes, long wavy hair, and a pair of red glasses. Just then, I realized who that familiar girl was. “Max!” I yelled, wiping my tears as I got up to meet her.
For a while, we were both speechless and unknowing of what to say to each other after a long time of not seeing each other. I looked back at dad gratefully; he looked very proud of himself. I forgot all my frustration towards him.
“Dad, how did you find her? I thought Maxine lived in Australia now…” Dad was smiling even wider now; he was obviously proud of what he’s done.
It was a quarter to seven now and I gave Lucky a bowl of his food as dad got the barbeque ready. The four of us ate outside the house and shared stories. Maxine brought out a small box and gave it to me. Inside were beads and string enough to make four bracelets. I scattered the beads on the table and put them in the string one by one in different orders.
Dad brought out another box. This one was a big cooler; it contained ice cream of different flavors. He took a scoop and put it on a cone handing it to Maxine and me. Afterwards, dad told me to close my eyes and hold up my hands. He placed a rectangular object and something smaller on top of it, and asked me to open my eyes.
On my hands, I saw a medium-sized canvas and a complete set of pencils and other drawing tools. I set them on the table and gave dad and Maxine a hug. Lucky came and joined us as he brushed up against our legs.
It was getting late; we packed up the things and brought them inside the house. I managed to make two bracelets tonight; one I gave to Maxine, and the other I kept for myself. Maxine was going to stay with us for tonight since she was having a vacation with her family here and they allowed her to sleep over.
Before I went to bed, I came over to dad’s room. We talked a bit and he explained what he was doing the whole day.
“So, what was your drawing about?” Dad suddenly asked as he uncrumpled my drawing of the Ice cream Princess and the dancing popcorn men.
I blushed as I saw the complete image of my work, “I was just remembering the stories you told me.”
“Sometimes that can be what my drawings are about…” Dad said explaining his drawings to me one by one.
He told me about half of his drawings; he checked his watch and told me to go back to Maxine.
“Go on; I know how much you’ve missed her. I’ll continue next time, and maybe we can draw together soon too.” I thanked my dad and hugged him before I left and headed off.
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